Years ago in an article in Black Belt Magazine, karate legend, Gary Alexander spoke up in an interview. He was a hardcore Marine turned martial artist. Truly the first champion. He thrived on hard training and today is still lean, fit and tough. He spoke of visiting his various schools and speaking to his crew of black belt instructors who ran them. His parting words, “Get Unfat!”. He told them if they didn’t, they could turn in their ‘Obi’s’ [belts].
With current social media growing explosively, it allows us to connect not only with friends and family, but also personalities, celebrities and even those in our field who had a bit of fame once upon a time. I have to admit to being completely shocked looking at old martial artists. Remember I was in high school in the early seventies, so my heroes were active during that time. The training they did was not based solely on competition, but on lifestyle, self defense, discipline and yes FITNESS. There is hardly a martial arts school on this earth that doesn’t advertise, FITNESS, as part of it’s marketing strategy. So let me ask you this. How do you tell perspective clients or parents of children the health and fitness benefits of martial arts training when your middle name is “CRISCO”? When you order TWO, “all you can eats”? When 50% of your income goes towards buying Gold Bond Powder to avoid chafing? Great leaders lead by example. Do as I do, versus, do as I say. How can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning? Let me clue you in.. we all get old. No one is saying you have to be the athlete you were at age twenty. You are only a martial athlete for a short period. You are a martial artist all your life. That’s when the qualities of fitness, peace of mind, balance, sharing, leadership and so many others are far more important than whose ass you kicked last week.
Now let me segue into another pet peeve, kettlebell instructors and kettlebell sport competitors. If you are going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk. Not everyone is going to have numbers like Anton Denisov, work ethic like Anton Anasenko or longevity of Sergey Merkulin,… but for God’s sake don’t crush a person’s spine on your way to the buffet! Almost all books, workshops and Facebook posts on kettlebell training will emphasize it’s a safe, effective means of fitness training, focusing on strength endurance and orthopedic health. It will also be emphasized that’s it a powerful tool for fat loss. [ in all honesty, most emphasize DIET as well]. Hopefully NO ONE has fallen for the, “burns fat off like a blow torch” schtick. The shocking part is competition photos of competitors who are obese. I can understand the heavyweights don’t have a weight limit, therefore cutting weight or a magnificent amount of lean mass versus excess fat is slightly less important. This also goes for the instructors who don’t compete in Girevoy Sport. How do you make a compelling argument for the fitness benefits of kettlebell training when “body leanness” is one of the cornerstones? How can you lecture those who need weight reduction advice [sometimes on camera and burned forever on DVDs] about losing weight, when you have lost the battle?
To be clear, if you are promoting a product, service or lifestyle habit that is supposed to promote fitness, health and optimal bodyweight, why are you fat?